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Call: (423) 543-1271

1261 Highway 19E
Elizabethton, 37643  



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Elizabethton Veterinary Clinic

Article Written by:  Dr. Michael Brown - Owner of Elizabethton Veterinarian Clinic

Our Paws Newsletter by Elizabethton Veterinarian Clinic


It is summertime again and time for your pets to be annoyed by fleas. As fleas are normally a much more significant problem than are ticks, this missive will be primarily instructive re the flea problem.

A short, quick, simple version of the flea cycle is as follows: after getting a blood meal by biting your pet, the female flea immediately begins laying eggs. The eggs are quite small but are not microscopic, are white, and are initially sticky. Therefore, they stick to the hair coat of your pet for a very short period of time until they become dry and then fall off the pet. The eggs ultimately wind up on the floor, bedding, or ground - wherever the pet is when the eggs are dry enough to fall off. This, of course, puts most of the eggs wherever the pet spends most of its time. Depending upon temperature, time, and humidity, the eggs eventually turn into a very small black larva. The larva is tiny and can’t go far but it does crawl to the darkest place it can find (corners, under baseboards, the bottom of the ‘pile’ of the carpet, etc). Depending upon time, temperature, and humidity, the larva will turn into a pupa. This is where the problem is. This pupal stage is un-killable for all intents and purposes. It is usually in a physically protected place and is quite impervious to most insecticides and is not routinely killed with sprays, flea ‘bombs’, etc. Depending upon time, temperature, humidity, and vibration, the pupa hatches into an adult and the cycle begins again.

Although a flea can live for greater than a year, most live 30-90 days. The female can lay upwards of fifty eggs per day. The entire life cycle of the flea can range from two weeks to two years – depending upon temperature, humidity, and vibration. If you have an indoor pet and you have found a flea on your pet, you can be assured that you have a flea problem in your house even though the fleas are not biting the human population within the house.

Cats are much more efficient “flea-ers” than are dogs and are much more likely to catch and eat the flea that bites them than are dogs. Cats usually have a more dense hair coat than do dogs. It is uncommon to see fleas on a cat. The fact that you do not see fleas on your cat does not mean that your cat is not a host to hundreds of fleas.

The new, professional topical and oral flea preparations are the most efficient methods of flea control. Although there is some suspicion and talk about flea resistance to the topical preparations, scientific trials and evidence indicate that there is no ‘resistance’ to these products and that the problem is usually the failure of proper application or that the product is being overwhelmed by bathing and other sources of moisture. In these cases, the pet owner can always rely on the daily or monthly administration of oral medication. In fact, by volume, the biggest selling flea control product in the Southeast U.S. is an oral product that is administered monthly. Volumes can be written about fleas and flea control. This information is presented to provide some very basic information and to advise you that professional products are available and that they are effective (topical and/or oral) when properly used. If you suspect that your pet may have a flea problem, please contact our office during normal business hours and ask the technicians to assist you. I believe that you will find that, when used properly, the professional products will provide more efficient and more economical flea control than the combinations of over the counter products that many people are currently using. The professional products that we use and recommend are Frontline products, Advantageâ productsâ, Capstarâ, and Comfortisâ.

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